“No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
“The beach was too sandy.”
“We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
…Say some of the not-so-happy customers of Thomas Cook. If British holidaymakers didn’t have a bad enough reputation abroad already, they certainly do now.
Away from Spanish taxi drivers and overly sandy beaches, earlier this week, a woman called Hannah C from North Yorkshire took to TripAdvisor to let the world know about how outraged she was after being charged £2 for a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon.
The fourteen-year-old Connor was probably secretly quite ignorant, as well as insecure, prudish, horribly narrow-minded and the size of an average moon. He was a stubborn creature of habit, living in a bubble the size of his postcode area, steadfast to the idea of living, working and existing within the UK. Bizarre for someone who was starting to realise that his academic career was geared towards foreign languages. The twenty-two (going on twenty-three (gulp)) -year-old Connor is radically quite different. Why? I owe it to the Year Abroad, of course.
Is it really four years since that fateful day? I’m talking about that day. That day when, surrounded by my peers, many of whom were drowning in anxiety and perhaps a little over-exaggerated hysteria, I sauntered into the school hall, whose smell of cheap wax and Wotsits I can still smell to this day. There, lined up before us, were three folding tables, with a smiling woman from reception behind each one. After she sifted through the envelopes in her box labelled ‘J – Q’, and handed me mine with a saccharine smile, I realised that somewhere inside the envelope in my hands were the four most important letters of my life. Four letters which were rather unfairly now the pinnacle of my academic life. Four letters, which, behind my back, had in a way begun paving the way for the rest of my life. It was strangely monumental.
Well, I’d like to put that much weight on that moment I opened my A Level results, but I’d already received a text message from the University of Exeter first thing that morning, so I suppose I didn’t need to subject myself to the smell of crisps and awkward conversations with the headteacher that afternoon. ‘Congratulations!’ the text read, telling me that I’d already secured my place. It took a while to register, as I rubbed the sleep from eyes, before deliberating falling back into bed or heading down to find out how I’d really done. I did the latter, of course.